Sundara Closed-Back - Ignore the name, this is a stunning headphone at its price

It can be hard to look past a name but I believe early reviewers assumed this headphone would sound like the well-loved Sundara “Open back” but with more sound isolation, but of course it does not. And now that Hifiman have recently lowered the price of the Sundara Closed-back to $149, I believe it is time to revisit this headphone for what it is and not for it’s name.


While the Sundara Closed-back shares some of the same technology and design as the ’normal’ Sundara it is very much its own headphone and the most distinct aspect is the gorgeous wooden ear cups. The quality of these alone make this headphone a unique proposition at this price point.

I would like to thank Mark from Hifiman for providing the Sundara Closed-back for the purposes of review


So lets get into the details, and see if this headphone can stand on its own and be a good choice to add to your collection.

Packaging and Unboxing

The Sundara Closed-back comes in usual Hifiman premium packaging. sundara-closed-box Medium.jpeg

Inside you will find the headphones securely nestled within a protective foam, accompanied by box containing a detachable cable manual, one recent change I believe is the packaging does not now turn into a headphone stand as it did previously: HIFIMAN-SUNDARA-CLOSEDBACK-BOX Medium.jpeg

Build Quality

The Sundara Closed-back boasts a robust construction, with a metal frame and high-quality plastic ear-cups, ensuring durability and a premium feel. The materials used strike a balance between strength and lightweight comfort, contributing to the headphone’s overall excellent build quality. Sundara Closed-Front.jpeg

Pictures probably do not do it justice how nice the look of the wooden ear cups : IMG_9509 Medium.jpeg

Comfort and Fit


I very much prefer this headband over the one used on the Edition XS or HE-R9, for my large head it provides extra support allowing for longer listening sessions. The headband is padded with a soft, breathable material that provides comfort without getting warm. The weight is evenly distributed across the headband, minimizing pressure points and enhancing comfort.


Especially in adjustable this is the best of the hifiman headband styles and will allow a comfortable fit the majority of head sizes, ensuring a secure fit for most users. IMG_9508 Medium.jpeg

Clamping Force

The clamping force is firm enough to keep the headphones securely in place without causing discomfort, suitable for long listening periods. IMG_9510 Medium.jpeg

Ear-cups Size

The ear-cups are generously sized to accommodate different ear sizes, ensuring a comfortable fit.


The cushions are made from a soft, breathable material, providing comfort and enhancing sound isolation. IMG_9511 Small.jpeg

Sound Isolation

The Sundara Closed-back offers excellent sound isolation, for the past few weeks I have been using these in a large noisy open-plan office environment, and they have been fantastic both in isolating me from the outside noise but also allowing me to get into deep concentration playing loud music without causing any of my colleagues to complain.

Sound Quality

The general sound signature is different from most Hifiman (especially their planars) it is more mid-centric with a good but not boosted bass and a slightly recessed treble compared to Hifiman normal treble response. Therefore, this does not have the typical Hifiman ‘house sound’ but it can be a very enjoyable sound signature on its own, with fast bass (I personally think the ‘harman bass boost’ is a little too much so the bass on these is very close to my personal target) and a great midrange. With the treble I personally would like slightly more, but for those who are susceptible to sibilance this could be the perfect sound signature.

Let’s get into the details


The bass is tight, controlled, and detailed, with enough punch to satisfy without overwhelming the balance of the sound profile. I really enjoyed these with “The Hunter” by Bjork, the bass was very present but never drowned out Bjork’s vocals. Portishead’s ‘Roads’ sounded the amazing, I could play it much louder than I normally would, with nice controlled bass laying a foundation for the gorgeous vocals, strings and snare drums.


The midrange is probably the star here, nicely forward in most songs, very clear and natural, presenting vocals and instruments with lifelike clarity and depth. “Baby plays around” by “Anne Sofie van Otter and Elvis Costello” was just fantastic, every subtle detail in her voice could be heard. With “Diamond on the soles of her shoes” by “Paul Simon” all the layers of vocals and subtle interplay of vocal was clear and forward in the mix making it a great pleasure listening to that whole album again.


As I mentioned earlier the treble is an area that might be either perfect (if you hate sibilance there is no chance with these headphones) or you might feel it little lacking especially compared to other Hifiman headphones. Some EQ can easily solve this problem and bring back some of those ’technicalities’. So with ‘Japanese House’s ‘Over here’ the vocals which can get sibilant with some headphones and IEM’s sounded refreshing detailed without being overly sharp. With ‘Corrie Bailey Rae’ ‘Enchantment’ the subtle symbols where present and sharp but never overbearing. The treble on ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson sounded incredible with its percussive drum machine really providing the foundation for the rest of the track.

Soundstage and Imaging

Despite the closed-back design, the Sundara offers a good soundstage and some precise imaging, creating a sense of space and directionality while not as good as their open backs was excellent. With The Beatles ‘Her Majesty (2019 mix)’ the vocals moved precisely from the right the left. With Led Zeppelins ‘Whole Lotta Love’ the middle section with the ‘swirling guitars’ clearly moved forward and backward in the mix rotating around Robert Plants vocals.

Audio Quality Conclusion

If you set your expectations correctly, the Hifiman Sundara Closed-back delivers an excellent audio experience. I personally would EQ these slightly (see my EQ recommendations later on) but in most of my test tracks other than this being a closed back I never felt it lacking. Some people will like more sub-bass (and maybe slightly less mid-bass) and others will no doubt want a little more treble but that is the beauty of a headphone collection, you should have different headphones with different sound profiles.

If you want a closed back in this price range with pure ‘Harman target’ tuning then go for an AKG K371, but I bet you will end up applying some EQ to that headphone, so why have an ugly, uncomfortable closed back when you can have a gorgeous closed back like the Sundara Closed-Back and do a little EQ if you do not like the sound signature.

Specs and Measurements

Frequency Response 6Hz-50kHz
Impedance 20Ω
Sensitivity 98dB
Weight 432g

Frequency Response

The Sundara Closed-back shows good channel matching and you can see that this is a mid-centric headphone. But this is very easy to EQ as you will see later: graph-2 Medium.jpeg


Distortion is minimal, even at higher volumes (I measured this at nearly 90db), ensuring a clean and accurate reproduction of the audio. Sundara-CB-Distortion Medium.jpeg


While you can easily enjoy the Sundara Closed-backs with EQ, it takes incredible well to EQ. Oratory has provided some highly recommended (even by him) EQ (here)[]

With this EQ effectively provides a harman sub-bass (which I would not personally not bother with), lowers the mid-bass (to match the Harman target) again not necessarily, he then tidies up a bit of the midrange and uses a few filters to even out the lower treble.


One interesting aspect of the Sundara Closed-back is its potential for modding and at its price it makes complete sense, check out the ‘Custom Cans’ channel on YouTube for lots of detail of how to mod the Sundara Closed-back.


I gave the Hifiman Sundara Closed-back a pragmatic rating of 4 for its exceptional looks, comfort and even though the sound signature is not perfect its easy to EQ.


Hifiman Sundara Closed-back an excellent choice for those seeking a high-quality listening experience balanced with a striking design and extreme. It’s not perfect but at $149 it is an exceptional pragmatic closed back with no rivals.